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A combat against corruption, light towards Peace


According to the Administrative Code of 1987, “Public Office is a Public Trust. Public Officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with the utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, a ct with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives”

This had been one of the fundamental concepts behind the fight for good governance and peace that the Ateneo Center for Leadership and Governance (ACLG) of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) in partnership with other organizations like EHEM.

Last June 25, 2011, a Zamboanga Colloquium: “beyond Fighting Corruption” was held at the Fr. William H. Kreutz, SJ, Ateneo de Zamboanga University High School Lobby, Tumaga Campus, and Zamboanga City. It highlighted three major activities- an Inspirational talk about Heroic Citizenship for Curbing Corruption, Book Launching of Kakistocracy and Open Forum for issues and concerns.

“Corruption is violence” disclosed Fr. Albert Alejo SJ, who is also known as Paring Bert, one of the leading peace advocates in Mindanao.  These striking words from him inspired those in attendance as he reveals that Corruption is a disease in our society that needs to be cured and prevented. “It kills, it hurts and it destroys” he added. The challenge then is for all of us to work for peace through the promotion of integrity and good governance.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to strengthen the peace and development works that highlights interfaith dialogue as a mechanism. Paring Bert, in an interview, challenged the young people especially the university student councils and college student body organizations to include peace as an agenda especially the fight against corruption.  He also shared that, “with the receptiveness of the people in the said forum, schools need to be active partners in these fight for good governance and combat corruption”.

Commissioner Heidi Mendoza of the Commission on Audit served as the Guest Speaker disclosed the need to inspire Filipinos to be genuine as public servants. As an inspiration, she shared that it does not need heroism for one to do what one should do as a public servant.

“I am not a hero” shared Commissioner Mendoza. The drive for her to go back to the commission after the various issues and concerns that revolved in her life is what God tells me to do. “Being a Public servant is a mission from God” she added. The challenge for us especially public servants is to promote public interest in a public post given that each one has its own private life with a private interest.

It may be hard, but is not impossible. She inspired the many that it took her elder son to say that she should not be recognized as a modern hero for fighting corruption is not a splendid work but an ordinary drive with a regular responsibility of all. 

As a response to the fight for corruption, she mentioned of instituting reforms within the commission and setting as a good example. What public office needs now is to claim back the dignity of being public servants which had been tarnished for the many years. Respect is for all. It is a commitment to the guardians of her faith, to her family, to the Filipino Citizens and as a personal commitment.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ronnie V. Amorado launched his book entitled KAKISTOCRACY: the rule of the unprincipled, unethical and unqualified. Dr. Amorado is a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow (2009-2010) in the United States. He did his research on leadership, citizenship, Kakistocracy and corruption at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of the Syracuse University in New York.

The book was an outcome of the series of books to include Fixing Society (2007) which won the 2008 Outstanding Book Award given by the National Academy of Science and Technology. He mentioned that the book features all about leadership, aberration, forms of betrayal of public trust, types of trust and integrity and many others.

A citizenship-based country strategy that calls for citizen’s inaction to citizen in action is integrated in the said book. Moreover, he challenges people to be engaged in various civic-related programs which help in establishing a society that is ruled by leaders who are principled, ethical and qualified.

Dean of the College of Asian and Islamic Studies of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), in a query to the speaker, mentioned of the need to draw out other strategies and mechanisms for true governance that serves as guide for Filipinos to fight for corruption in the country.

Dr. Amorado mentioned that World Bank had recognized world-class anti-corruption initiatives and programs that had been in existence in the country. The concern remains, even with the presence of various initiatives, the Philippines is still considered as one of the twenty- most corrupt countries all over the world.

Fr. Antonio F. Moreno, SJ, ADZU President shared that it is good way to celebrate heroic citizenship. Heroism resides in every heart of us. It is a need for all of us to celebrate and work together. Heroic citizens are those who works together, who believes in themselves, who do a little something and those who can make a big difference.

“It is not enough to catch darkness but to light our candles. It is not enough to cast out evils but for us to do something about it” added Fr. Moreno.  The forum served as an inspiration to fight against corruption for it is one way that lights the darkness of our society and a light towards peace.

By Aldrin B. Abdurahim

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